While it was the addition of legs to its VR avatars that made the headlines this week, Meta also announced a brand new version of its
Oculus Quest headset, the Meta Quest Pro. It's a very sleek and very expensive upgrade over the existing Quest headsets – and I'm already terrified of it.
The new headset is the first to offer a"mixed reality" experience, blending the metaverse and the real world. It features goggle-like lenses that let the user view the world around them, and a 50% faster processor. Oh, and inward-pointing cameras that track your eye and face movements. (Not got into the VR game yet? Check out the best Meta Quest deals.) Meta's Horizon Worlds is a flagship virtual reality social space that is in open testing, it's led to some unusual Meta game design choices.
Meta says that eye tracking "uses cameras to estimate the direction of where your eyes are looking. This feature is used to make your avatar's eye contact and facial expressions look more natural during your virtual interactions with other users and to improve the image quality within the area where you are looking in VR. " That's all well and good, but it will also be used "to help Meta personalise your experiences" – which sounds like ads to me.
It's easy (and terrifying) to imagine how eye tracking could be used for advertising. It's no secret that social media platforms collect data such as how long a user looks at a post before scrolling past it. Is it a stretch to imagine Meta collecting data on which ads – or parts of ads – your eyes themselves are drawn to?
Still, despite these characteristically Facebookian fears, there's no denying that the Meta Quest Pro looks pretty great from a hardware perspective. Unlike the boxy shape of the Quest 2, the Pro actually manages to make a VR headset look somewhat sleek, with a 40% thinner design. The controllers are much smaller too, with motion cameras removing the need for that faintly ridiculous plastic 'halo' you'll find on previous models.
Time will tell if the Meta Quest Pro will prove a hit, but one thing's for sure – VR is having something of a moment. You might say the idea has legs. If you're wondering what all the fuss is about, check out our guide on what is the metaverse.